From the first Duke of Beaufort in the 17th century to the present Duke of Wellington, the tradition of ducal kennels continues. It is easy to dismiss the obsession with blood lines as an out-of-date eccentricity.

But remember, all those dog breeding dukes are the same men who carried out the greatest tree planting programme this country has ever seen, whose long-term vision created the British landscape we value today, and we should share their faith in continuity.

Paws of the Realm are listed here with the earliest established breed or line first in the order of precedence.

The Dukes of Beaufort

The Marquis of Worcester established a kennel of foxhounds at Badminton in 1640. Records from 1743 to present day, covering 54 generations.

King Charles II

Bred spaniels from the 1660s, establishing the King Charles spaniel and enacting a law that the dog must be allowed into any public place.

The first Duke of Marlborough

Established the Blenheim line of what are now known as Cavalier King Charles spaniels during the mid-18th century.

The Dukes of Rutland

Set up the Belvoir kennels in the 1700s, with an uninterrupted stud record from 1791.

The Dukes of Richmond and Gordon

The fourth Duke established the Gordon setter in the early 1800s, with the sixth Duke further developing the breed. The present Duke is Honorary President of the Gordon Setter Club.

Sir Walter Scott, Bt

Helped develop the Scottish deerhound by breeding Maida, a deerhound/Pyrenean cross. Earliest established line, the Chesthill, bred by the Menzies clan in the early 19th century.

The Dukes of Buccleuch

The fifth Duke introduced retrievers from Newfoundland, with the sixth Duke beginning the line of Buccleuch labradors in 1830.

The third Earl of Malmesbury

Bred Malmesbury Tramp in about 1880, which was a co-foundation sire with the Buccleuch labradors, influential in Scottish labrador breeding.

Edward Laverack Esq

Established the Laverack setter, the major blood-line in establishing the modern English setter. Published his book The Setter in 1872.

The Duke of Wellington

His Stratfield Saye line of labrador retrievers has twice won the national Retriever Championship.

Her Majesty The Queen

Her Majesty’s Sandringham kennels has made up five FTCh labrador retrievers. The most famous dog, FTCh Sandringham Sydney, ran in the Championships five times and was a highly influential sire.

Her Highness Princess Antoinette de Monaco

Hungarian vizslas would outrank British dogs in Europe, having been bred originally by the Austro-Hungarian emperors, but foreign titles are not recognised here. The vizsla was saved from extinction during the last century. HSH Princess Antoinette continues the tradition of royal patronage.